Fried Green Tomato Stacks

Fried green tomatoes are something that, for a long time, were sort of an enigma to me. I mean, I had heard of them, and I knew they existed, but had no idea where I would find them (this is not something served in restaurants in Michigan, I’m sorry to say), and no real clue what they were used for (a main course? A side dish? As an appetizer?). In fact, it wasn’t until a family trip to Italy in 2009 that I had the chance to give them a try; my parents took my then-fiancé and I, and my sister and her husband, to Italy for 10 days in celebration of my mom’s 60th birthday and my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. We rented a house up in the hills of Tuscany, and it was basically pretty damn awesome. On our way from the airport to our rented house, we stopped at a tiny little market in the town nearest our destination (the house was LITERALLY in the middle of nowhere) to pick up a few things to keep around the kitchen for daily breakfasts and snacks. My mom grabbed a handful of green tomatoes and threw them into our basket; later that afternoon, she looked at me and said “You could probably figure out how to make fried green tomatoes, right?” Well… sure. Sure, I can figure that out. With a handful of random ingredients (some olive oil that would likely cost $50/bottle here in the US, a package of pre-made bruschetta toasts crushed up to make breadcrumbs, fresh eggs that the home’s owners had left on the counter for us) I made my first-ever batch of fried green tomatoes. And they were delicious.

After that initial introduction to the wonder that is the fried green tomato, I became kind of obsessed with them. Lucky for me, when my husband and I went on our honeymoon, we went to a restaurant that had a fried green tomato stack as an appetizer – and I have been replicating that appetizer ever since! It combines quite a few of my favorite things (goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, BACON), and has become a favorite dish around our house.

Fried Green Tomato Stacks (with bacon, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar)
Serves 2

2 large green tomatoes
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 T olive oil
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled*
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced by half
salt and pepper

*I will leave it up to you to decide how you want to cook your bacon (in the microwave, on a broiler pan in the oven, on the stovetop, etc). However, it is worth noting that if you choose to cook your bacon in a skillet, you are more than welcome to use the rendered bacon fat to fry your tomatoes in (supplemented with olive oil).

1.) Start by slicing your tomatoes. Cut them crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices – I can typically get 3 good slices out of each tomato. Lay the slices out in a single layer on some paper towels, and let them drain/dry for a few minutes.

2.) While your tomatoes are drying (flip them after a couple minutes), set up your breading station. You’ll need 3 shallow bowls (or plates with a good lip on the edge); the first should have your flour in it (seasoned with a couple generous pinches each of kosher salt and pepper), the second should have your eggs (beaten well), and the third should have your panko. You’ll also want a plate or cutting board to place your breaded tomatoes on, until you’re ready to fry them.

3.) When your breading station is ready, take a minute to put your balsamic vinegar on to reduce. Put the vinegar into a small sauce pan, over medium low heat. Let it come up to a simmer, and keep it at a low simmer until the vinegar has reduced by half (make sure to keep an eye on it – it goes from thick enough to coat the back of a spoon [which is what you want] to GLUE-LIKE in about 30 seconds. Be ye forewarned).

4.) Now that your vinegar is reducing, let’s get to frying! Start by placing a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 2 T of olive oil to the pan (you want the entire bottom of the skillet to be covered in a thin layer of oil, so adjust as necessary). While your oil heats, bread your tomatoes. First coat them in flour (shaking off any excess), then dip them into the egg (making sure all the flour gets coated with egg), and finally coat them in panko.

5.) When you have half of your tomatoes breaded, gently place them into the pan. Two things to watch out for: is your oil smoking? If so, turn the heat back a bit, and let the oil cool down for a minute before adding your tomatoes. When you place the first tomato in the pan, do you hear a good sizzle? If not, let the oil continue to heat up a bit before adding your tomatoes. Oil that isn’t hot enough = greasy tomatoes. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan; obviously, the tomatoes need to be in a single layer, and there needs to be a bit of space in between them.

6.) Fry the tomatoes on the first side for 3-4 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, and then flip and fry them for another 3 minutes or so on the other side. While the first batch of tomatoes is frying, you can get to work breading the second batch. (You can also check on your reducing balsamic vinegar, to see how that’s coming along).

7.) When the tomatoes are golden brown on both sides, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels, so that any excess oil will be absorbed.

8.) When your tomatoes are fried and your balsamic vinegar is reduced, you’re ready to make your stacks! On each plate, place a fried green tomato, top with a bit of crumbled goat cheese, a bit of crumbled bacon, and a spoonful of your balsamic reduction. Repeat for each layer, until all your tomatoes are gone.

Admittedly, not the most photogenic dish in the world - but possibly the most delicious.

I tell you what, these tomato stacks are AWESOME. The tartness of the tomatoes and the goat cheese, with the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar, and the salty bite of the bacon is just PERFECTION. They would be perfect for a small dinner party (you could make them full size, and just keep the tomatoes warm and crisp in a 200° oven, on a baking rack placed onto a baking sheet, until you’re ready to use them), or even a larger cocktail party (cut the tomatoes into quarters after frying, top with a piece of bacon, a bit of goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic, and spear the whole thing with a toothpick. You could change up the non-tomato components any way you want (they’re delicious layered with pimento cheese and bacon, I can tell you that much).

I’m practically an authentic Southerner at this point,


grilled venison tenderloin bites.

On Thursdays, I usually start asking Matt what he wants to do about suppers during the weekend. I like to have a plan in place so I know whether we’re going out, or what I need to buy at the grocery store on Friday afternoon to get me through the weekend. Unlike his usual answer of “whatever you want to do is fine,” he said he would like to make some venison bites on Saturday night. Naturally, I was completely on board with this because not only do we have a freezer full of venison that we need to use, but this meant he was in charge of supper. Win!

Y’all, these are amazing. There are a few things we’d do a little differently next time, which I’ve changed in the recipe below. We used thick cut bacon, which was too much… and Matt subscribes to the same theory I do, that you can never have enough cheese. It’s true that you cannot have too much cheese, but if you put as much cream cheese in these as he did, you are warned that these suckers are RICH. If you’re not a venison fan, you could do this with duck or even with chicken or pork. They’d make great little appetizers!

Venison Tenderloin Bites
adapted from many-a Hunt Club member

1/2 olive oil
2 tbsp worchestshire sauce
1 tbsp honey
ground red pepper
coarse ground black pepper
small onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed

To assemble bites:
Bacon (regular), pieces cut in half
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes (we used 1/3 fat and it was fine)
Jarred pickled jalapenos
skewers, soaked a couple hours

ETA: Soak tenderloin in milk 4-6 hours, changing the milk as needed. You’ll see why.

Make marinade and add tenderloin. Marinate overnight.

Preheat grill.
Cut tenderloin into small pieces. Stack a piece of cream cheese and a jalapeno on top, wrap with bacon. Thread onto skewer, leaving an inch between each piece. Make as many as you like/as many as you have ingredients for. Just make sure you’re not wasting any of the tenderloin!

Place on grill, turning and cooking until bacon is done, about 15 minutes. Serve.

He’s making me a venison fan, one delicious bite at a time,

shrimp with tomato conserve over cheese grits.

What, I have a blog?

My home laptop up and died on me Monday night, as I sat down to upload some photos from my real camera and write a couple posts. Christina has carried the load for me this week, and I have been sitting back, twiddling my thumbs and awaiting my computer to be magically fixed. So far, not so good.

That said, I have no new and delicious content for you but I do have a guest post that I wrote for my dear Erin at Blue Eyed Bride last week. And this recipe is too good to not have in our (extensive, easy to search) archives here so please bear with me as I become one of those Too Good For Everyone bloggers that sends you to read what I wrote elsewhere. What can I say, the blog fame has gone to our heads around here.



My culinary skills have evolved greatly over the last 10 years. From throwing some chicken tenders in a skillet and dousing them in a little buffalo sauce and declaring that supper, to hosting my in-law Christmas dinner this past year – I’ve come a really long way. There have been many bumps over the years, and a couple of nights we’ve dumped my hard work in the trash and opted for scrambled eggs. There’s nothing I hate worse than spending a fortune on ingredients and a couple hours in the kitchen only to have the dish turn out just “eh.” But for all the things I’ve mastered — risotto, actually making chicken delicious, a 14-layer chocolate cake for heavens sakes — one thing laughs at me every single time I attempt it. And it’s embarrassing for all involved.

Y’all, I can’t make grits.
I’m a born and bred South Carolinian who’s loved and appreciated grits for as long as I can remember, and yet. The creamy, decadent perfection alludes me every time. Mine are always grainy and not properly seasoned — no matter how much time I spend or how much salt I add, it never seems to be enough. A friend and I were discussing this one day, and she proclaimed, “making grits is a man thing, Crist.” And she’s right. Fortunately, I married a man who can cook most every Southern delicacy; from perfect butterbeans to country fried steak to boston butts, the boy knows his way around a tub of Crisco. And best of all, his grits are perfection… which is likely his heavy handed seasoning, use of a quart of cream, and a lot of butter, along with the patience of Job.

And so, I’ve accepted my lot in life, and just focus on the grits accompaniments. In that spirit, I want to share with you the shrimp and grits we made a couple of weekends ago. It was simplistic and yet complex – I think the vinegar and brown sugar is a great addition to the tomatoes. Mine never quite got as thick as I imagine the recipe writer wanted it to be, but we decided it was as thick as we would want it. For the love, don’t leave off the bacon. And none of that microwave, pre-cooked bacon, y’all. Besides, if you microwave your bacon, what grease do you plan to cook your onions and garlic with? Hmm?

Southern Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Tomato Conserve
via Natalie Dupree’s Shrimp and Grits Cookbook

4 tbsp butter, divided
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 cups cooked grits, cooked with milk
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, grease reserved
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar

Add 2 tablespoons butter and cheese to hot grits.

Heat remaining butter in a large-heavy bottomed frying pan and saute the shrimp quickly, until they turn pink. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To make the conserve, add the onion and garlic to the buttered pan with bacon grease and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar and brown sugar and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and jam-like. Remove from heat and stir in shrimp.

Serve over the hot grits. Top with crumbled bacon.

Fingers crossed my IT Genius can fix my laptop (and yes it’s a Dell TINA, I know I need an Apple),

classic 14-layer cake. or, my greatest culinary achievement thus far.

I’ve put off writing about my epic cooking acheivement because I was not sure I could do it justice. Quite frankly, I’m still not sure I can, but I’m certainly going to try. See, Matt’s favorite cake in all the world is a multi-layer cake with chocolate icing. The problem is that they are so labor-intensive that they are almost impossible to find at a traditional bakery. I’ve seen Caroline’s Cakes at the Holiday Market, and their cakes are very tasty but at 7-layers, I knew it just wouldn’t stack up. The boy would want more layers than that.

I came across Bakerella’s 14-layer experiment over a year ago and bookmarked it, thinking that I might try it on a whim one day (knowing full well I would never actually do it). But as my baking abilities continued to improve, so did my confidence. I got it into my head that there was no better way to ring in Matt’s 30th than with this impressive cake. Besides, when using 14 disposable pans and not having to worry about cutting the layers, WHY NOT try it?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as a tick. I wanted it to be perfect – to not only look delicious but taste delicious. And it was.

I did follow Bakerella’s advice, and coat the whole cake with a chocolate buttercream. Mammy points out that this is not in line with a traditional Southern Layer Cake, but both Matt and I thought it was a perfect addition.

Look at these layers! I still cannot believe I actually made this.


This cake was not winning any beauty contests in terms of icing techniques or baking skills  – I really have none. But we didn’t care.


The day Matt served the final piece of cake, we had to have a moment of silence. My labor of love was so well-received, and it was worth all of the effort. Try it one day! I bet your family will want you to make this cake for every occasion.


My dad’s already requested one for his birthday,